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Unexpected issues in your home aren't enjoyable, but they are common. A flooded basement can give even the most stoic homeowner a sense of helplessness and panic. If you have a basement flood, try not to over-analyze the situation. It may not be as bad as you think. According to the experts at ServiceMaster Restore, that provides 24/7/365 response to flood situations in your home, here’s some things you can do if your basement floods.
• Before you do anything, make sure to shut off any power around the area, including electricity and gas. Never enter a flooded area while the power is on. If you aren’t sure how to shut these areas off, call a qualified electrician before entering the room and beginning to work.
• Unless the water is caused by rainfall, take action as soon as you notice flooding. If rain or storm water is the cause of the flood, wait until it's passed before getting to work.
• Regardless of the water source, wear boots and gloves for protection. You may also choose to wear a protective mask. Hip or chest waders may also be useful if they are available. Take care when walking and moving around the flooded area since it will likely offer itself as a slipping hazard.
• Determine the source of the water. If a burst pipe is the cause of the flood, shut off water to the basement.
• If your basement has a floor drain, check to make sure it didn’t become clogged during the flood. Keeping it open and functioning will help drain the water.
• Start removing water from the basement. Depending on the amount of water, you can use a sump pump, a pool pump, a wet/dry vacuum or a mop and bucket. Sump pumps are located in the lowest part of a basement and work by sending water away from the home after a flooding. Without a sump pump, water can come up through the ground and enter the home causing flooding in not only the basement, but other parts of the house as well. After most of the water has been removed, soak up the remainder with a cloth or sponges. Don’t be shy about asking for help -- many an extra set of hands can make the removal go faster.
• Move damaged items out of the basement to dry in a well-ventilated area. If weather permits, a sunny place may lend itself as the best option. It’s best not to dry out items inside the basement, which is already damp. A good rule of thumb is to give items about 48 hours to thoroughly dry. If they remain wet, they may need to be discarded in order to avoid mold and mildew. The best advice is to inspect things carefully after the 48-hour period, and decide the best course of action. Don’t try to save wet cardboard boxes, since they can be especially susceptible to bacterial growth. Salvage the contents of the boxes if you can, and discard the cardboard containers to be safe.
• Don’t touch electrical items like televisions, stereos or lamps, even with the electricity disconnected. It’s best to let electrical items dry in place, and refer to an electrician or qualified repairman to determine the amount of damage.
• Rip up carpeting and get it out of the basement as soon as possible. Carpeting can prevent the floor underneath from drying if it’s not removed quickly. Although it can be difficult to adequately dry out these materials, sometimes wet carpeting can be saved. Consult a restoration specialist or a carpet cleaning contractor for recommendations. If carpet isn’t dried properly, it can also harbor mold and mildew.
• Give the basement several days of drying time. Open windows and doors to get as much ventilation as possible, and place fans around the room for air circulation and to speed drying time. You can also rent a dehumidifier if you don’t have one already.
• Wash down floors and walls to remove any dirt left behind by the water. Remove any wet or damaged drywall and insulation to prevent the spreading of mold.
• When the floor and walls are dry, use an anti-mildew spray to discourage mold and mildew from developing.
• If you have flood insurance, call your home insurance company and report the flood. Confirm your coverage limits, deductible amount, and claim procedures.
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Should you call a professional for help with your flooded basement? You may want to ask for help if the water was more than several feet deep or if you see mold or mildew developing. If you’ve taken steps to waterproof your basement and it still flooded, or if you don’t know what caused your basement flood, it's a good idea to get a professional opinion. Depending on your specific situation, you might want to consult a plumbing contractor, a basement waterproofing company, a disaster restoration specialist or a combination of specialists. If your home insurance company is involved, may check to see if they have a specific vendor that they recommend for flood mitigation.